The Charles Burgess Dunbar (C. B. Dunbar) Maternity Hospital in Gbarnga, the only maternity hospital in Central Liberia, has been without electricity for a few months now.
In an interview with local radio stations recently in Gbarnga, the hospital’s Board Chair, Mrs. Dorothy Tooman informed Journalists that the hospital is currently strangulated due to lack of adequate budgetary support from the national government.
The Board Chairperson explained that at present the hospital is battling the menace of inadequate fuel supply, limited lifesaving drugs, and meals for patients among others as some challenges confronting the hospital.
Madam Tooman said the hospital uses about sixty gallons of fuel oil daily on electricity alone; something she said is not forthcoming.
She said as the result of the acute supply of fuel oil, the hospital administration is constrained to share power per hour; that is, power is turned on from 8:00PM to 12 midnight and switched off till 6:00 AM, instead of the regular twenty-four hour supply.
“This situation is dangerous for our healthcare delivery system particularly in a hospital that caters to only babies and their mothers; so this needs urgent and collective attention by all including the Bong Legislative Caucus, national government and well-meaning Bong County citizens” Madam Tooman challenged.
Madam Tooman told Journalists that the hospital is currently operating on an annual budget of US$ 200,000.00 from national government with a catchment area of over 300,000 people; an allotment she said cannot ensure effective response to the health needs of the inhabitants.
She disclosed that as part of their plans, the board in collaboration with the hospital’s administration will shortly embark on a fundraising exercise aimed at saving the hospital from future closing.
It was gathered by this paper that nurses as well as laboratory technicians used flashlights and phone lights to attend to patients and to perform laboratory tests.
“After 12midnight when the generator is switched off, we can only turn it on when there is a complication that requires surgery,” a nurse told this paper.
A baby mother who spoke to this paper praised staff at the hospital for a high sense of professionalism and compassion, despite the numerous challenges they encounter.
Some of the patients bemoaned the fact that they have to buy flashlights from local boys who run a profitable trade and they cannot rely on the hospital’s generator for electricity, as they claimed the generator is operated only periodically.
They (patients) therefore pleaded with the government and well-wishers to help remedy the situation.
A senior nurse, who preferred not to be named, reechoed the cries of the patients for an immediate intervention by government to provide regular electricity to the hospital.
The C. B. Dunbar Maternity Hospital was constructed by the Government of Liberia in 2009 with funding from the French charity organization Médecins du Monde and the McBain Foundation aimed at reducing the heavy load case on Phebe Hospital, the only referral hospital in Gbarnga at the time.
The hospital has 50 bedrooms with medical doctors specialized in gynecology assigned at the facility.